Massachusetts Law and Social Host Liability

Drunk Driving Social Host LawsUnder Massachusetts law, “social host liability” refers to a very specific thing:

  • The serving of alcoholic beverages to a child or minor (i.e., anyone under the age of 21) who,
  • Goes on to be involved in a car accident or other incident resulting in death or injury, or
  • The continued serving of alcohol to an adult who is already clearly inebriated, and who, likewise, leaves the premises and is involved in a brawl or car crash.

If you were injured, or your loved one was killed, in an incident involving an inebriated minor or adult who had previously been served alcohol in a private home, you may be entitled to recover damages from the homeowner of the premises where alcohol was being served under social host liability law.

Best Intentions Do Not Count When it Comes to Letting Minors Drink

In many cases, adults accused of social host liability will claim that they were acting with the best of intentions—maintaining, for example, that they would rather have their teenaged children and their friends drinking in the safety of their home rather than driving to another location outside their control.  As logical, or even as falsely admirable, as this may seem, it does not exempt adults from responsibility for allowing minors to consume alcohol in their home. An adult needn’t even be present to be charged with social host liability; an unlocked liquor cabinet, combined with knowledge of a child’s proclivities for drugs or alcohol, may be enough to seal the deal.

Absentee Homeowners Can Also Be Held Liable in Some Cases

Less clear-cut are cases where the homeowners were away on vacation, and their teenaged children take advantage of the situation by hosting a party to which their invited guests bring alcoholic beverages.   However, if one of these guests goes on to be involved in a fight or car accident resulting in death or injury, it may still be possible to sue the homeowner for social host liability, depending on the specifics of the case.

Free Consultation With Compassionate Attorneys

Because social host laws can be complex, and each case is different, we offer a free initial consultation so you can share your story with us.  We can tell you if you may be entitled to compensation and advise you on the best course of legal action.

While no amount of money can replace the loss of a loved caused by the reckless behavior of any drunk driver, you are still entitled to seek civil justice.  Compensation can help with medical and funeral expenses, loss of future income, loss of companionship, as well as in some cases, damages for emotional distress.  Contact us today for your free consultation with a compassionate attorney and learn more about how you can start to put your life back together.

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